It doesn’t take long for Arment to return, with four other stingrays beside him. They’re in all shades of colors – black diamond and chain-link, blue and marbled. All of them though, each and every one of them, they are all motoro stingray.
You see, there are many kinds of ‘rays in the ocean. But it is only those bearing the name motoro who will offer aid to travelers. Who will answer every song, no matter the tune, no matter the singer.
“I’m back! I said that I would be quick and quick I was!” Arment floats just in front of MeaZea. Like most creatures of the sea, he has a soft spot for mermaids. “I know our numbers are few, but we can get you across the water in no time.”
“Thank you,” says MeaZea, running her fingers over Arment’s topside again. “WooFZee has a lot of practice riding with those of your kind. He shouldn’t give you too much trouble at all.”
“WooFZee, WooFZee, WooFZee,” mutters another stingray. She floats back and forth among the waves, finally settling close to the shore and in front of the wolf. “I know that name. Have you come from the Firebrand Sea?”
WooFZee’s ears flick forward, lips curling upwards in something close to a smile. “I am. Why do you ask?”
Before the stingray has a chance to explain, Panda Santa stands up and starts brushing sand from his fur. “I hate to interrupt, but we really need to get going. My time for visiting all of my fans is starting to run out. I have to get to the Gemstone Islands soon.”
“Oh, yes, yes,” agrees the stingray. “My name is Tarmu. We’ll get you to the island in time, Panda Santa. Don’t you worry!”
It’s a flurry of motion after that. Arment and a second stingray settle beneath WooFZee’s paws. The rest gather around Panda Santa’s sled, darting to and fro by the reindeer, making sure none get too tired during the journey through the waves.
The day is nice and the waters are calm. By the time the sun has reached its highest point in the sky, crystal beach is coming into view. It’s a dazzling sight. Sunlight glints on the sand, creating a kaleidoscope of colors. Palm trees dot the shore line – but something is strange about them. These trees don’t have leaves of green or coconuts of brown. No, they have leaves of thin emerald and coconuts of citrine. For here, on this island, everything is made precious stones and metals.
“Oh wow,” breaths MeaZea. “That’s…that’s amazing!”
“This is one of my favorite places to visit,” agrees Panda Santa. “I always find myself wishing that I could spend more time here.”
“Beautiful,” says Arment. The other stingrays echo the word.
Before they reach the shore, MeaZea dives beneath the water. She twists and spins and flicks her tail, relishing in the feeling of complete freedom. When she bursts back up to the surface, there’s a smile on her face.
The land might not be her home, but WooFZee is her family. Whatever adventure awaits them on this island will be amazing. She can feel it.
Katelynn E Koontz – Author